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  Discovery of Novel Nrf2 Activators from Australian Indigenous Plants

   School of Medicine

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  Prof Gerald Muench, Prof Gerald Muench  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Drug Discovery group within the School of Medicine at Western Sydney University has been actively involved in the discovery of novel antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents including Nrf2 activators (Singh A, Raju R, Münch G. Neurochem Int. 2021 Jan;142:104897). A PhD scholarship is now available for a highly motivated candidate who is technically skilled with a strong cell biology and drug discovery background. Knowledge of organic chemistry would be advantageous. The successful candidate will work with a diverse group of researchers including chemists, pharmacologists, and molecular biologists. Background knowledge of inflammation including key biochemical processes and the role these play in the initiation and progression of chronic brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease is desirable. This project will involve a comprehensive screening of Australian plants followed by strategic isolation and structural identification of molecules from the bioactive extracts (see Afzal et al, Planta Med. 2022 Nov 15.  doi: 10.1055/a-1887-2016).

Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum for 3 years. International candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, plus a tuition fee waiver and an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Single Policy. Support for training, conference attendance, fieldwork and additional research costs as approved by the School.ria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen in the area of natural products chemistry and pharmacognosy. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in natural products chemistry, cell and molecular biology. Some experience in HPLC and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy is also desired.

The successful applicant should

-         hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) a Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent international qualifications.

-         demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to drug discovery, bioactivity-guided purification, and cellular screening assays.

-         have an understanding of the importance of the drug discovery process from natural sources.

-         be willing to learn cell and molecular assays, interpretation of NMR data, and analytical chemistry techniques  

International applicants from non-Englidh speaking countries must demonstrate English language proficiency.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

Funded through the Ainsworth Medical Research Fund


Identification of Nrf2 Activators from the Roots of Valeriana officinalis.
Afzal S, Zhou X, Or K, Raju R, Münch G.
Planta Med. 2022 Nov 15. DOI: 10.1055/a-1887-2016. Online ahead of print.
PMID: 35764305
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